Breaking Football has created a Fantasy Football Experts league this season. On Saturday, a group of fantasy experts, myself included, got together and drafted our teams. It was a fun time, and one of the toughest drafts I’ve done in years.
Drafting with experts is much different than drafting with your friends, or even with a random group of people online. The biggest difference is that sleepers are rare commodities in expert drafts. Players don’t fly under the experts’ radar, and good players simply don’t fall down draft boards. These types of drafts are a great way to prepare for easier drafts for the same reason that Olympic athletes train in the mountains. Am I comparing this fantasy football league to an Olympic training facility? Yes. Yes I am.
Wish that you could train at the Olympic Fantasy Football Facility? Well now you, too, can draft with experts. Click here to discover the greatest fantasy football prep tool out there. Created by FantasyPros, this tool allows you to draft against experts’ rankings. You can customize it to choose which experts rankings you want your opponents to use, or you draft against Yahoo!’s or ESPN’s ADP. Each draft only takes a matter of minutes, and you can undo picks if things don’t go as planned. Obviously I’m being silly with the Olympic talk, but I’m serious about the FantasyPros tool. I’ve been using it for the last two years for both baseball and football drafts, and I never want to enter a mock draft lobby again.
I had the 10th pick in this draft. The end of the 1st round is a tough place to pick, because the best running backs are off the board. Your first pick sets the tone for the rest of the draft, and it’s really the only place you can get a truly elite player. If you settle for a second-tier talent here, you’re left with no top-tier players on your team.
With McCoy, Charles, Peterson, Forte, and Lacy off the board, I was able to rule out the idea of drafting a running back with my first pick. Marshawn Lynch has taken a beating throughout his career. He’s only 28, but he very well may have taken as many hits as a 31 year old. His yards per attempt took a huge hit in 2013, and he’s only posted more than 4.5 yds/att once in his career. I just don’t like the way he’s trending enough to spend a 1st round pick on him. With Megatron and Dez off the board, I was lukewarm on the idea of taking a receiver with the 10th overall pick. That leaves one option. You guessed it:
Peyton is coming off of a season in which he set the NFL single-season records for most touchdowns and most yards thrown by a QB. Having Peyton on my roster can automatically give me a leg up on the competition. Unless I’m facing Rodgers or Brees, my opponent is going to have ground to make up.
Of course, the flip side of taking Manning in the first round is that filling my RB and WR slots is suddenly a much tougher task.
The Broncos offense is a juggernaut, but if I’m being frank, I’m not terribly high on Montee Ball. The Broncos have a solid offensive line, and I think Ball is good enough to be very successful in the Denver offense. That said, I just don’t think Ball is neither big enough or athletic enough to be an upper tier NFL back.
So, why did I take him? After all, “good enough” is hardly a solid endorsement to justify an early second round pick. Well, for starters, being in the Bronco’s offense means stability. Week-in adn week-out, I know that I’m going to get solid production. Ball’s rarely going to see 8 in the box, and the Broncos run more plays on offense than anyone else, meaning Ball should get plenty of opportunities. Since I don’t have the RB1 I had hoped for, I damn well better get steady production from the guys that I do end up drafting. Montee Ball should be a consistently reliable producer.
This is where things got a bit dicey. After drafting Ball, I was crossing my fingers that one of Foster, Nelson, Jeffery, Cobb, or Ellington would somehow drop to my 3rd round pick. Unfortunately they were taken back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back from the end of the 2nd round to the early 3rd. Andre Johnson and Victor Cruz flew off the board after that group, and I decided to make another trade off. I chose Vincent Jackson’s consistency over the upside of Cordarrelle Patterson, Roddy White, and Keenan Allen. Outside of 2010, when he missed 11 games, Jackson has 5 straight seasons of 1000+ yards. Plus, I had to make sure people knew that I’m not really a Bronco’s fan; I just draft like one.
I’m not terribly high on Reggie Bush, but he’s a big part of the Lions offense. He accumulated more than 1500 total yards last season, and this athletic phenom is still under 30. The attention that Eric Ebrom will receive from opposing linebackers could really open things up for Bush, too, in both the passing and running game.
As my pick approached, I had two players in my sights: Vernon Davis and DeSean Jackson. I wasn’t sure if both would stick around, especially after seeing Allie take Jordan Cameron in the 4th. Luckily, I was able to snag both. With 13 TD last season, Davis is a monster red zone/deep threat on a potent 49ers squad. I like him better than Cameron, especially in non-PPR leagues, simply based on his QB. Unlike running backs, turning 30 years old is not a death sentence for tight ends. Even at 30, he’s still 2 years younger than Jason Witten. Plus, with Gore likely to cede some action to Carlos Hyde, Davis could take on some of the short passing plays that Gore leaves on the table.
Jackson is probably my first high risk/reward pick. Moving to Washington makes him a glaring unknown. He’s coming off of career highs in catches (126), yards (1332), and touchdowns (9), and at 27 years old, he’s in the prime of his career. The big question is whether RG3 can get him the ball the way that Vick and Foles did. If RG3 can return anywhere close to his 2012 form, DeSean Jackson will be a monster.
Another Jackson, another risk. Fred Jackson is starting to emerge as the top back in Buffalo. He has value splitting time with Spiller, but if he can win the starting role, Jackson will become a steal in the 7th round, and a lock in my flex position.
I was nervous taking a QB with my first pick, and for good reason. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of putting a team together around Manning, but I certainly don’t have one of the best teams (I think that honor goes to Kevin Roberts). Taking Peyton in the 1st round turned out to be a misstep, as another QB wasn’t taken until Rodgers was taken with the 30th overall pick.
Stay tuned to see how I finished my draft.